Archaeological worker dies suddenly while in Kisatchie National Forest
Officials suspect death was heat-related
NATCHITOCHES PARISH, La. (KSLA) - A 24-year-old archaeological worker with the Shreveport Cultural Resource Analysts died suddenly from a medical event Monday, July 11, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office says.
It happened in the Kisatchie National Forest-Kisatchie District within the parish.
Around 2:15 p.m., multiple law enforcement agents responded to reports that a female hiker was possible suffering from heat exhaustion or a stroke on Forest Service Road #321 Bayou Camp Road off Longleaf Vista in the forest. While first responders were trying to get to the location, two coworkers were performing CPR on the woman until help could arrive. Medical personnel arrived on scene and continued CPR for a time, but determined the woman had died.
The Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office was notified, and the woman was identified as Kaylen Eileen Gehrke, 24, formerly of Missoula, Mont. She had recently moved to Longview, Texas, with her parents.
Gehrke’s parents say she was a 2016 graduate of Golden High School in Golden, Colo. She then earned a bachelor’s degree in forensic anthropology with a minor in Spanish-English bilingual from the University of Montana.
Officials do not believe there was any foul play involved in her death. Her body is being transported to Shreveport for an autopsy. Officials believe her death may be heat-related.
Deputies report that it was Gehrke’s first day on the job; she and her two co-workers were conducting an archaeological survey of Kisatchie National Forest for the U.S. Forest Service when she fell ill.
NWS Shreveport says at 2:15 p.m. Monday, it was 98° outside in Natchitoches, with a heat index of more than 107°.
Gehrke is survived by her parents, Ronald and Betsy, and her sister, Kylie.
TIPS TO PREVENT HEAT ILLNESS
- Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.
- Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments.
- Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 911.
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